The Bride: Natalia Kozokina Kuruvila, a 25-year-old exporter
Her Gown: Belfaso
Her Story:"After shopping for dresses that I had seen and liked in magazines, I discovered they did not look as attractive in stores. I wanted something that looked luxurious and expensive, with a lot of detailed work. But the dresses that matched my wants did not match my budget. They were about $8,000 and more.
About six months before my wedding, I gave up on looking for my dream dress. I decided I'd buy anything decent after I returned from my trip to Russia, where I was going to visit my parents. While there, my mother dragged me out in the below-zero weather to check out Russia's gown offerings. Though their top-of-the-line dresses were well within my budget, I didn't like the styles. They were either too extravagant, risqué or asymmetric—or they only came in colors like blue, pink and red. At the last store we visited, Belfaso, I drew them the dress I wanted, and they told me they could make the base of the dress the next day so I could try it on while I was still visiting. I chose the fabric and the embellishments, and the next day I had my fitting. I was finally happy.
Though there were problems with the way the gown fit when it was finally ready, and I ended up having to fix them myself two days before the wedding, I couldn't imagine buying a different dress. I loved knowing that no one else had a dress exactly like mine. It was an ivory, silk-taffeta ball gown, embroidered with lace, freshwater pearls and beads. For that quality of work and the materials used, I would have had to pay at least three times more than the final $3,000 cost if I had purchased it in the States. It was very stressful having a dress custom-made in a different country with only one fitting, but on my wedding day, I felt more beautiful and thrilled than I could have ever imagined myself being." —Meredith Bodgas